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5 healthy alternatives to coconut oil

From avocado to walnut, these oils are worth a pour

A cornerstone of the Ketogenic diet, coconut oil packs a healthy punch. A great kitchen-to-beauty product, coconut oil is made up of mostly medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are shorter fatty acid chains, and studies show that these may help increase overall energy expenditure (meaning more calories burned). In one study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating 15–30 grams of MCTs per day was found to increase energy expenditure by 5% over a 24-hour period. Coconut oil is also a rich source of lauric acid, which can help boost immunity and prevent infections.

It’s easy to see why coconut oil is a food cupboard staple, but if you’re looking for a little variation in your cooking or you’ve been wondering about the benefits of other oils, look no further.

Hemp seed oil

Hemp oil is made by cold-pressing the ripened seeds of industrial hemp plants. Great for drizzling on salads, hemp seed oil has 40% less saturated fat than olive oil and contains an optimal 3:1 ratio of both omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. This makes it excellent for treating inflammatory skin conditions. For example a study in The Journal of Clininal Inevestigation found that hemp oil is a potent and potentially universal anti-acne treatment. Another study in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment also found consumption of hemp oil resulted in the improvement of eczema symptoms. Hemp oil is also a source of “complete” protein, containing all the essential amino acids our bodies can’t produce. A delicate oil, hemp seed doesn’t handle very high temperatures well so is best used it in its raw state to get its full nutritional benefits.

Grape seed oil

Technically, grapeseed oil is a by-product of winemaking—once the grapes are pressed, the seeds are left over and the oil extracted. Low in saturated fats and containing over double the vitamin E of coconut oil, grape seed oil has been shown to be effective in treating many health issues such as acne, premenstrual syndrome and high cholesterol. Plus the phytosterols in grape seeds could help control the skin’s inflammatory response, according to a review published in the Molecular Journal of International Sciences. It is a great option for salads and its neutral flavor makes it ideal for infusing with garlic, herbs and other ingredients.

Avocado oil

Avocado oil contains more monounsaturated fatty acids and less saturated fat than coconut oil, plus a higher level of antioxidants like vitamins E and lutein. With it’s mild and buttery taste, avocado oil goes well on salads, veggies or in soups. It is also a great oil for drizzling because it enhances the absorption of important nutrients. In one study published in the Journal of Nutrition, adding avocado oil to a salad with carrots, romaine lettuce and spinach, boosted the absorption of carotenoids in the meal by up to 17 times more than without.

Walnut oil

Rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, walnut oil is lower in saturated fat than most other oils and contains a good ratio of omega 3 to 6 fatty acids. It is also rich in sleep-friendly melatonin and has been shown to have a substantial effect on lowering blood sugar levels. One study in the International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism looked at 100 people with type 2 diabetes and found that consuming 1 tablespoon (15 grams) of walnut oil daily for 3 months significantly lowered blood glucose levels. If using walnut oil in cooking, it is best used as a finishing or drizzling oil because of its sensitivity to heat and light. It can also go off quite quickly so should only be kept for a short period of time.

Almond oil

Almond oil can be a useful ingredient for skin hydration and moisturising. It contains a high level of fatty acids that can improve skin barrier function, and it also contains vitamins D and E so it works as an antioxidant, combating free radical damage that can lead to discoloration, fine lines, inflammation, and other signs of premature aging. Almond oil has also been shown to have a beneficial effect on weight loss and blood sugar control. In a study from the journal Nutrition and Metabolism, participants who consumed a breakfast with added almond oil had lower blood sugar, both after the meal and throughout the day, compared to participants who did not eat almond oil.


This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor or healthcare provider before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.


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